Chevrolet carved a huge niche in the 1950s with the ’55 Chevy.
That in turn, led to the ’56 Chevy and the ’56 Chevy begat the ‘57 Chevy.
These weren’t mere cars-they were cultural icons and collectively they are known as the “Tri-Five Chevys”.
The ’54 Chevy was the far less glamorous cousin.
That’s why you’ll see a thousand tri-fives at a car show to every ’54 Chevy. The world of nature would label the tri-five Chevys as a species with a flourishing population. The ’54 would be on the brink of extinction.
James Pawley didn’t care about the popularity contest because he prefers his ’54 Chevy Bel Air for a few reasons. The main reason is pretty basic because he admitted, “I was born in 1954 and it was a good year for cars so it just seemed right”.
The other reason is James has a personal philosophy about his underdog Chevy, “It’s a little off the beaten path Chevy-wise”.
This car has a lengthy history but most of it has been in storage as James explained, “It’s been in and out since 1985 so it hasn’t seem much time on the road in a long time”.
James is very realistic about his Bel Air and he summed up in once sentence every car guy on the planet understands, “It’s a 50-footer but I don’t worry about that too much”.
James is an auto-tech so he is willing to give a blood and guts analysis, “It’s got lots of mud so it’s not mint”.
He has one serious goal with the ’54 Bel Air, “I just want to get it all safe to drive in modern traffic and it’s it’s getting there. I had it registered and insured but I want it to be upgraded to modern standards”.
This ’54 Chevy is already far from stock because the stock 6-banger is long gone, “It’s got a 350 Chevy with a 350 transmission and that works great”.
Basically James has a driver at this point but he is looking down the road because he wants to upgrade the suspension, “It’s going to get modern components under it and I want to drop it an inch. That’s good enough because if you go too low you can’t hit bumps without damage”.
James is still in the formative stages of his game plan with the Bel Air and so far he hasn’t hit the road like Dinah Shore recommended when she urged the world to “see the USA in your Chevrolet”.
The itinerary for the Chevrolet is pretty basic at this point because James doesn’t have it up to his driving standards. He puts in rare appearances at various local shows but longer road trips are still a tweak or two away from reality.
One of the basic questions for any car guy revolves around a succession plan for his ride and James summed it up succinctly with the words, “I got that covered”.
There were several examples of tri-five Chevys at the show that day but this ’54 Bel Air stole the spotlight from its more glamorous cousins.
That’s why James needs a game plan.